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Idea

A platform where you can find your long lost friends

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Aug 15, 2021
A platform that helps you find your long-lost friends based on a time period and location where you spent time together.

You might have known people only by their online nicknames. You might have their old, non-working phone number. You might know their name but can't find any trace of them online. You might have spent a summer together.

Problem

I spent my teen years hanging out with friends on IRC (internet relay chat), then it was MSN messenger, then various forums, etc. Back then we didn't think about exchanging any real-life contact info. We all knew that we were going to be there tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. Until someday we were gone. Years later I wonder how some of them are doing. It would be great to get in touch once again.

I see this hasn't changed in the younger generations. They know each other by Roblox, Snapchat and Tik-tok handles. When they eventually outgrow their current platforms many will lose contact.

The same problem applies offline. People make great friends in summer camps, vacations, etc. When it ends, they remember one another forever but never see each other again.

Solution

A platform where you can leave a trail of past nicknames, old phone numbers, email addresses, messenger handles, social media profile names, time period and location where you hanged out, and tie it all to your active contact method. That way your old online friends can look you up and get in touch.

People would be able to search the platform by:
  • time range
  • country, city, street, school (or better yet a location radius on google maps)
  • platform (IRC, MSN, myspace, various videogames, etc)
  • nickname (or approximation of what they remember)
  • old photos/videos?
  • what else?
People could set alerts to be notified if someone matching a specific criteria shows up in the future. The person who just signed up would also get a notification about who was looking for them before they signed up.

Everyone could see who visited their profile to check them out.

If people wanted to get in touch they would send each other requests (similar to facebook friend requests) where the other can accept or refuse.

Work to be done

What I haven't figured out is how to prevent trolling, fraud and impersonation of others. Any ideas?
3
Creative contributions

How to tackle the problem of frauds and impersonation

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Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello Aug 15, 2021
To reduce the chance fraud and impersonation, the person who has being sought for can be given an incomplete version of their friend's description. The person will have to tell the remaining half of the description or stories to verify their identities. The parts that are left out will be the parts of the story that are most personal so that the only a few persons can answer them correctly. Though this method may be quite reliable since it is based on shared experiences that are unique to a few people, it may be impractical in cases where the users are not frauds but the they simply do not recall what happened. Calls can be made on the platform so that the users that are almost matched can talk and decide if they are talking to their long lost friend.

The memory of its users is the weakest link in the platform's setup. Sometimes even the owner of a social media account forgets their own username and passwords. It is only normal that they will forget other people's details. If there was a way to make the platform less dependent on the user's memories and records, such a platform will be very effective.

I believe it is impossible to prevent trolling on any online platform so long as everyone has their freedom of speech. They can only be banned or removed from the platform so that they do not repeat such actions and they can always get a new account and do similar things.

A few supplements

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Deru Xu
Deru Xu Aug 15, 2021
It's a good idea to find former friends. I think the following points can be noted:
  1. The user can set simple questions in the friend request interface, for example, what is the user's own name and the other party's name? Of course, other minor issues can also be set. Once friends or other people click to request to contact or add friends, they need to answer these questions first. After the platform detects that the requester has answered the question correctly, it can send a friend request. This simple filtering method can reduce some harassment. However, users should take into account that former friends completely forget your name or other information.
  2. Users can also set information tags on the platform, so that past friends can find others faster by searching tags.
  3. In order to prevent some people from maliciously registering multiple accounts to fraudulently harass others, a computer can only register one account, and other people can mark the account. When viewing the account, the user can see how many individuals have marked the account.

Automated collection of identity-related data

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Povilas S
Povilas S Aug 15, 2021
Great idea! I was trying to find a friend from my teenage years myself on facebook and even knowing the real name and surname I wasn’t able to. One complication that I see from what you described about how the platform would operate is that anyone who registers would have to put in as much old identification info about themselves as they can remember and even then some old acquaintance could remember them by a different nickname or different piece of circumstances. Usually, different people remember the same person by different clues (and differently than that person remembers him/herself from that time).

To give an example, let's say I register to the platform in order to find some old lost friend, I search for him according to what I remember about him/us from that time, in order for me to find him that person would have to think of me when registering and the means by which I could remember him. So whoever registers to the platform should anticipate which people from the past might want to find them and which information they should put accordingly. They might not think of many people that will want to find them, because some people you simply forget or don't give enough importance to, but that doesn't mean they will not want to reach you. You'd be happy if they did, but you might not think about them at the time of registration.

So maybe such a platform could work as a bank collecting your digital footprint on various social platforms slowly as time passes and even if certain platforms are gone at some point or changed unrecognizably the data about your nicknames and other information there would be saved in such a bank in text or other forms so that you wouldn't have to do the job of remembering all that in order for more past friends/acquaintances to be able to find you. This still doesn’t solve the real-life only data collection task, however.

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